This is a draft created on 12/15/13 by Laurel LaFramboise. With your help it will be refined!
UNITED STATES CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT TWENTY EIGHT
Explanation Section 1: The wording of this Constitution, as well as all state constitutions shall be interpreted as originally intended and amended.
1. Any ambiguity shall be interpreted in favor of limited powers or obligations of government.
2. No branch of the federal government may transfer or relinquish its authority to any entity other than to the States or to the People.
Explanation Section 2: All citizens and legal residents of the United States have the right to:
1. A safe and sustainable natural, built, and social environment without unnecessary incursion on state or individual liberties and rights.
2. A basic education that prepares individuals for the responsibilities of citizenship, adjusted to the level of ability, talent, and interests of each learner.
3. A living wage that provides an employee and one dependent with at least basic necessities (food, water, shelter, dependent care, commuting, health/disability care, and higher education if required by employer) for a yearly average of no greater than 40 hours per work week. Those who are employee or government dependents may work for less than the living wage. Only those who cannot work due to age or infirmity nor are employee dependents and cannot provide for themselves shall become dependents of government. No employees shall be paid more than XX times their calculated living wage (performance bonuses may comprise an additional 50% of salary in any given year, and special benefits may apply to specialized work) nor work longer than 60 hours per work week for single or multiple employers (self-employment is exempt).
4. Equal opportunity to obtain materials, services and employment necessary for the pursuit of happiness.
Explanation Section 3: The right to trial by jury is amended as follows:
1. Federal court judges are authorized and obligated to dismiss lawsuits/prosecutions and change awards/sentencing a reasonable person would consider frivolous/excessive, or if judgement may cause unreasonable harm to the rest of society.
2. Specialized federal courts to hear technical testimony shall be formed consisting of a judge and a panel of 3-5 specialists chosen randomly from a list of experts in the technical field(s) reviewed. Verdicts by such courts shall stand in lieu of or as an aid to trial by jury, at the discretion of the judge.
3. The practice of plea bargaining is prohibited in federal and state courts. Congress and state legislatures shall determine and routinely update detailed sentencing guidelines, but judges shall have reasonable power to deviate for special circumstances.
4. Decisions made by the above lower federal courts may only be appealed for alleged court misconduct as defined by Congress, and if the appeal is justified shall result in immediate dismissal of the person(s) in question as well as other lawful penalties. The Supreme Court makes decisions on cases only where there is disagreement among lower court judges concerning constitutionality.
5. All federal judges must have at least ten years experience acting as prosecuting/defense attorneys. They may serve on the bench for no longer than two fifteen year terms. All state judges must be appointed by the state legislative bodies and serve for terms no shorter than 6 years and for no more than 30 years in total.
Explanation Section 4: All federal employees (elected, appointed, or hired) shall:
1. Have compensation (salary and benefits costs) set hourly at the same amount and provided in the same general manner as the average hourly salary and benefits costs of United States non-governmental workers in similar positions (education, experience, skill, location of employment). This sub section supersedes U.S. Amendment 27.
2. Restrict business travel to that absolutely necessary and all travel expenses shall be publicly and prominently displayed.
3. Use an eight day work week (4 days work, 4 days rest), sharing job positions/duties so that the federal government is open for business 365 days/year. Annual compensation shall remain the same as the 7 day week but paid vacations, holidays, and sick days shall be eliminated.
Explanation Section 5: All candidates for federal office shall receive and spend/use campaign donations only during the year preceding an election. Donations shall be used only for:
1. Reasonable annual salary (no greater than that of the desired office) for non-incumbents only
2. Reasonable annual salary for one campaign assistant
3. Travel expenses in the territory of the desired office
4. Office expenses and meeting space rentals
5. Setup and maintenance of a campaign website
6. Publication and mailing expenses for one packet of information delivered to each household in the territory of the desired office
7. As Congress shall pass with a two thirds majority vote.
Unused campaign funds shall be donated to a non-political charitable organization within a month after the election.
Individuals only may donate toward candidates’ official campaign efforts as stated above; political action and other organizations may NOT donate funds to individual campaigns but may pay for media events, polls, and political activities that include/invite all candidates running for a given office. Issues-based political action campaigns may receive donations from individuals and organizations but must follow spending requirements for individual candidate campaigns in each state.
Candidates/issues-based campaigns must maintain a publicly posted, up-to-date, independently audited list of campaign contributions and expenses, including reasonable cost estimates for donated time and materials.
Explanation Section 6: No person shall be elected to either house of Congress or in combination for more than twelve years. Congressional members must possess a minimum of a four year degree from a liberal arts college or equivalent education and three years full time managerial experience. The President and Vice President of the United States must possess a minimum of one year post graduate or equivalent education and ten years full time managerial experience with at least three years in high level management. The President and Vice President shall work as a team, sharing the work week so that at least one executive is on duty every day of the year.
Explanation Section 7: Congress may be considered in session even when members reside in their home districts and correspond electronically. Congress must meet in Washington D.C. at least twice each year for short periods of time, during which voting on major legislation shall take place. Business travel outside their districts for other than these sessions shall require the authorization of the President of the United States.
Explanation Section 8: All bills must be submitted in conversational English, pertain to one subject or issue, and be no longer than 5 pages (XXX words/page) of summary, 20 pages of executive details, and 40 pages of administrative details.
Explanation Section 9: Unfair election practices shall be eliminated in the following manner:
1. Reapportionment of congressional districts shall follow city, county, or other pre-established regular boundary. 2. All federal elections shall allow voters first and second choice of candidates for each office and the candidate with the highest weighted votes shall be declared the winner, except for President which is described below.
3. The Electoral College shall be eliminated; if no presidential candidate receives 50% of the popular vote, a re-vote with only the candidates with the two highest percentages of the popular vote shall take place within 4 weeks of the initial election.
5. Election results for federal office may not be publicly revealed in any manner (including exit polls) until 90% of ballots for all states have been tabulated. Campaign polls for federal office released to the public by any source must meet certification requirements passed by Congress.
Explanation Section 10: Federal government monetary policy shall be restricted to the following starting on the date this amendment is ratified or as specified below:
1. The value of the dollar shall be fixed to a 100% gold standard, with the value determined by the amount of paper dollars/coinage in circulation and on demand divided by the amount of gold owned by the federal government at the time this bill passes Congress by a two thirds majority vote. This value shall not be changed without a constitutional amendment; no gold shall be sold nor additional paper/coins circulated unless gold is added to federal holdings by selling government property for gold at market value or by mining gold on government lands.
2. All financial organizations shall maintain 100% reserves for demand deposits; these organizations shall provide 100% disclosure to owners of invested deposits as to type of financial instrument and level of risk as determined by Congressional committee. Financial organizations may charge fees for services at cost plus reasonable profit only, using standard accounting practices determined by Congress. The Federal Reserve shall continue its role as a check/internet transaction clearinghouse and may offer other services to banks on a voluntary basis.
3. The federal government is prohibited from creating laws that have costs associated with their implementation and maintenance which are not included in the federal budget for the length of time they will be in effect. Federal accounting practices shall follow private sector accounting requirements passed by Congress and the full budget shall be readily available to the public. At the beginning of every election cycle the elected leaders of Congress shall meet with the President of the United States to establish a cap on total spending (mandatory as well as discretionary programs) for the current year and for the following XX consecutive years with the goal of keeping the national debt no higher than 1/5 of the economic output of the United States. Total federal outlays shall not exceed total federal receipts in any year without a 2/3 majority roll call vote in both Houses. If Congress does not pass an appropriations bill detailing individual program cuts and increases before the beginning of the fiscal year that they were designed to fund, the President shall institute across the board cuts or increases to reach the pre-established cap for the year.
4. The federal government is prohibited from creating laws or establishing organizations aimed at supporting or competing in the market for goods and services, and shall not pay states for marketable state-run goods and services. Regulatory laws governing the market shall be constrained by applicable sections of this Constitution as amended. Congress shall have six years from the date of ratification to adjust current laws and eliminate federal organizations/payments to state organizations that support or provide marketable goods and services.
5. The sixteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed. Congress shall have two years from the date of ratification of this amendment to change the tax structure and eliminate the federal income tax. Federal revenues may not be generated by more than 2 universally applied tax instruments at any one time.
6. As Congress shall approve with a 2/3 majority vote in both Houses.
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